Human-Rights Group Seeks Details on Immigration Email Probe

By Beacon Staff

GREAT FALLS — A human-rights organization is calling on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to release details about its investigation into a racially charged email sent by an immigration official in Montana to a Helena attorney.

Montana Human Rights Network director Travis McAdam tells the Great Falls Tribune that his organization is circulating a petition for the release of information about the investigation into Bruce Norum.

Norum is the supervisory detention and deportation officer for Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Helena. As the most senior ICE official in Montana, Norum has control over most of the agency’s operations in the state, including decisions on whether to arrest or investigate suspected undocumented aliens or to detain or deport individuals.

In September, Norum wrote “good read” at the top of a forwarded email message to Helena immigration attorney Shahid Haque-Hausrath and another ICE employee. The message argued for a loyalty test for Arab and Muslim Americans before they are afforded the same constitutional protections against racial profiling and discrimination as other citizens.

On June 4, Haque-Hausrath and his lawyer met with Norum’s supervisor, ICE field office director Steven Branch, who said Norum soon would be reinstated to his position after a nearly eight-month suspension.

Haque-Hausrath said Branch refused to release any other information about the probe.

Dallas-based ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok issued a statement Monday that said, “For privacy reasons, ICE does not discuss internal investigations.” There was no phone listing for Norum in Helena.

McAdam said it seems as though ICE is putting Norum back into his position without any explanation, prompting the petition.

“As the highest-ranking ICE official in Montana, Mr. Norum sets the tone for the agency. Based on the email he forwarded and the power of his position with ICE, Muslim Montanans and other people of color have reason to fear being profiled, arrested, or detained based on the color of their skin,” the petition reads, in part.

Rusnok said anyone who suspects improper behavior by ICE employees is encouraged to contact the Office of Professional Responsibility’s 24/7 Joint Intake Center at 877-246-8253 or email Joint.Intake(at)dhs.gov.

“Every ICE employee is held to the highest standard of professional and ethical conduct,” Rusnok said. “Accusations of misconduct — especially complaints related to civil rights and civil liberties violations — will be investigated thoroughly and, when substantiated, immediate appropriate action will be taken.”